Lifecycle management is the best practice approach to the top challenge IT faces today: how to remain competitive. Sid Kumar, VP of customer lifecycle solutions at CA Technologies, explains how lifecycle management is integral to any company's IT portfolio.
Proactive lifecycle management
Business leaders know they must change or risk obsolescence. This means IT must support new business requirements while maintaining existing operations. Industry statistics show that IT budgets divide roughly 70-80% trapped in maintenance and operations (keeping the lights on) with only 20-30% available for new innovations. Intensifying the problem, IT faces declining year-over-year budgets. CIOs need to look at the 70-80% maintenance slice much more aggressively, finding ways to unleash funds to support more new service or product development and innovation. Lifecycle management enables IT to do this. The approach takes the predictable stages in a technology's lifecycle and identifies the related changes in business value to drive IT strategy and year to year tactics. For example, IT takes into account the age and currency of its existing technologies, projected lifetimes of these current assets, plans and roadmaps for retention, upgrades or future replacement.
IT pros should think about proactive lifecycle management like managing a financial portfolio. You have to regularly check on it and make sure it is delivering the right return for the associated level of risk/cost. How do you manage your financial portfolio? Would you delay adjusting any of your investments that were not returning the highest rates?
The need to align business with IT
Businesses today have a crucial need to be current and innovative. It's no surprise then, that we're seeing more functional areas of the business outside of IT find their own solutions - what is commonly referred to as ,shadow IT'. While this may be a fine approach in the short-run, in the long-run it's far better for the business to align with IT. Proactive lifecycle management helps enable this alignment. This framework communicates technology status and planning in terms that business understands, like business value, ROI and TCO.
The cost of not using lifecycle management
Lifecycle management is the key to competitive advantage. Without it, solutions can be inadvertently left in place for too many years and end up being inefficient, more risky and costly. Older solutions may be far behind the state of the art in terms of functional capabilities, user interfaces, scalability and integration, and they may not be aligned with modern platform architectures such as virtualisation or cloud. The IT organisation runs increased security or compliance risks. Older solutions often show disproportionately higher costs relative to others.
Too often inertia has set in and IT organisations work around these deficiencies until the vendor makes the decision for them. When the vendor declares end-of-support, such as the recent Windows XP expiration, the IT organisation may be forced to contract for extended out-of-support maintenance fees or undergo the expense and business disruption and risk of a forced rip and replace change process.
In general, without the best practice of proactive lifecycle management, IT is perceived as a cost centre and business blocker rather than being perceived as a business enabler and a contributor to the bottom line.
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